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About the author:
I am a very recently retired, multi-award-winning staff writer for a weekly community newspaper chain in metro Detroit. I became hooked on romance fiction when my 11th grade English teacher rejected the book report I wrote, saying the book was much too easy for me, and insisted I read and report on Daphne du Maurier’s “Rebecca.” I read Margaret Mitchell’s “Gone With the Wind” that previous summer.
After some life-changing health issues, and covering over a dozen murder trials, I decided to write the kind of stories I like to read, stories with happy endings.
I love the romance genre and love letting my characters take control of their stories. I am a member of the Greater Detroit Romance Writers. I write under the pen name of Tara Eldana
What inspired you to write your book?
Flora and Rex are characters in the third book in the KinkLink series, Getting to Forever. This is their story. I loved the idea of a woman who gets the courage to explore her wild side, let loose and be "bad," with a man who will keep her safe while she does it.
Here is a short sample from the book:
Rex Reddington stood in a spot where, by his best guess, he had the worst chance of catching the garter. He didn’t see who caught the bouquet, though that didn’t matter because he was only interested in one woman.
The woman who just dropped a bombshell on him prior walking into the reception. He was at his best friend and business partner, Dave’s, wedding—or David as his new wife, Mandy, called him.
He first met Dave in special ops in Afghanistan. Rex served as a medic, and the two had become fast friends during those crazy times. Running his hand over his recently grown-out hair, that he was still getting used to, he watched as all the guys moved to the center of the room. He started shaving it off when he went to Afghanistan but grew it back for the wedding because Dave’s persuasive mother, Harriet, asked him to.
The woman that had his interest, Flora, laughed at something Mandy said.
He believed what she’d told him earlier. Flora Hargrove, the sweet little schoolteacher with a belly chain, pierced navel, who wore pink and purple streaks in her hair and a nose ring during summer vacation, that he first saw on a stripper pole and couldn’t lie for shit.
One time—one night of the most mind-blowing, off-the-charts sex he had in his life with a condom that must have leaked. What are the odds of that? Unable to resist, his gaze slid over her. She left her little fake nose ring at home today and had washed out the pink and purple streaks.
He tore his gaze from her chocolate brown eyes, which twinkled gold when she was happy, away from her full, sensual lips a man dreamed about, to the swell of her ample breasts and the flowers she held in her hands. Wait, what? She caught the bouquet? If he recalled the tradition, the dude who nabbed the garter slid it up the bouquet girl’s leg.
Dave was getting ready to throw the damn thing, and fortunately, Rex caught his friend’s eye and jerked his chin toward Flora, laying claim. He approached the group of would-be recipients and stood dead middle of the pack. Dave flashed his WTF look, which Rex knew he’d have to answer to later but quickly mouthed “do it,” knowing his friend would oblige.
Dave smirked, turned his back, and pitched it high. Rex grinned. He had this. He played high school baseball and had a college scholarship—until he didn’t. Popups were easy. He stepped forward then back, so it dropped into his palm. Murmurs of awe echoed as Rex stalked toward Flora, his baby mama. Holy hell.
She looked dazed and shocked. She clutched the bouquet against the slight swell of her stomach. His baby. “Hey, beautiful,” he said, faking confidence.
She sat in the chair and inched up her dress as he slid the garter as high as he dared to rounds of applause. The dance music started again as Flora stood, and a couple of groomsmen swept the chairs off the floor.
“I think I’m going to puke,” she wailed.
Rex hustled her over to a fire door and ushered her out into the cold, November wind. He held onto her waist as she unloaded the contents of the wedding feast onto the pavement. Of all the tours in country he’d done, nothing ever quite scared him as much as knowing there was a little human inside of this woman, growing, causing her upset condition. Would it be a girl or boy, healthy, strong—questions like these had been running through his mind since Flora told him of her situation.
After a few minutes, she straightened up slowly. “You’re okay?” he asked.
“I think so,” she said. Still looking a little green, he was hesitant to bring her back inside. She shivered. Time to get back in the building.
A few steps back to the door, his arm wrapped around Flora’s shoulders, hoping to keep her a little warmer. Rex tried the door and promptly muttered a curse. The fucker locked when it shut. Flora shook again, and he knew she had to be cold in that dress. Dropping his arm to her waist, he brought her closer to him.
Fortunately, the door flew open, and Dave and Mandy looked at them. “Can we help?” Mandy asked. Rex stared hard at Dave. Apparently, he knew. But how?
Were they in the other room when Flora told him? There was a good chance that Mandy already knew. She and Flora were best friends, more like loving sisters than cousins.
Dave stepped outside the door and spotted the reason that they were out there on the pavement. “Don’t let it go,” Flora pleaded, so they wouldn’t close the door. “It locks. I’m sorry, Mandy. The food really was wonderful.”
“Shhhh,” Mandy said, waving her hand.
Rex still had hold of Flora’s waist but let her go and followed her back inside. A baby—he made a baby with a woman he barely knew, his best friend’s wife’s best friend. Not that having sex with women he barely knew was unusual for him. In fact, it was normal, your typical consensual hookups with no strings. No, Rex never thought of himself as boyfriend or husband material. Until now.
Flora walked to the bar and ordered something that looked like cranberry juice. Standing next to her, he thought of ordering a Makers, he really could use a stiff drink, but opted to abstain for now. Rex noticed her fragrance smelled like vanilla—and, well, puke. Even so, he fought the persistent hard on he had whenever he was near her, or hell, just looked at her.
The territorial bit was new to him. His relationships were one nighters at best, and the women knew the score. Another man’s hands putting a garter on a woman Rex slept with normally wouldn’t have given him any pause.
But this was his woman. And the things he really wanted to do to Flora’s sweet, tight body would send his sweet little schoolteacher running for cover. Rex liked kink, and the women he played with liked it too. As an associate member, he’d attended events at KinkLink, a BDSM club in Chicago. Dave and Reece and Ryan, the brothers Dave used to work for at R & R Investigations and Security, were full members in the KinkLink club in the greater Detroit area. Needless to say, Rex’s tastes were different and maybe not something Flora would be interested in.
Thinking back to the night they met, Rex couldn’t resist Flora. She looked so damn good on that stripper pole. It wasn’t their normal gig, far from it actually, but the women went undercover as pole dancers to obtain intel on a missing persons case. One that Mandy, a Private Investigator like he and Dave, was working solo on but had enlisted her cousin for assistance. Before things went south of bad, the guys rescued them, and for Rex and Flora, one thing led to another. And a baby.
Rex’s arm brushed Flora’s as he murmured close to her ear, “Better?”
“Yes,” she said, staring intently at her drink. Although the guests were beginning to leave, as best man and maid of honor, they were supposed to stay ’til the end. He knew she was feeling tired after the long day, apparent from her yawns every few minutes. At least he hoped that was it and that he wasn’t boring her.
“How are you getting home?” he asked. Because I’m driving you.
“My parents are here, and they’ll take me to the farmhouse,” she answered. “I left my car at Mandy’s.”
The bartender looked at him in question. No drink for him, shaking his head. “Thanks.”
“I’ll drive you now, if you need to go.” Her beautiful face looked drawn and stressed. “Mandy and Dave will understand.” He lowered his voice and angled his head closer to her. “They heard us before, I think. They were in the bathroom, you know, when you told me.”
“Crapohcrapohcrap,” she kept saying.
Rex covered her small, soft hand. “Stop. I’m actually surprised you didn’t already tell Mandy about the baby.”
She shrugged. “This is her—their day. We both love weddings and even started our wedding binders when we were teenagers. We’d crash weddings just to get ideas.”
She had a friggin’ binder. Feeling out of sorts, knowing that he probably wasn’t the type of groom she had dreamed of—well, she was carrying his baby, so he’d just have to prove himself.
“I’ll drive you home,” he said, with a bite of dominance. Her breath quickened, surprising him. Did she like his control? Based on their night together all those months ago, he’d thought so. He’d thought about reaching out to her so many times, but so much shit had happened after that night. Looking at her now, he could tell by her eyes and the way she looked at him that she wanted him. Well, fuck. His sweet little angel wanted it bad.
His cock approved, practically burrowing a whole through his dress slacks. Not so fast, he and his angel had a few things to discuss first.
Looking around the room, Rex noticed more guests were saying their goodbyes to the bride and groom, the place was really thinning out. He checked his special ops watch, noting it was 23:45. The place closed at midnight. Time to go.
She finished her drink and turned to him, eyes weary “Thanks for the offer, but I’m too tired to talk about…” She trailed off as Mandy’s brother, Ray Junior, sat down next to her.
“You look tired, cuz,” Ray said, nodding hello to him. “You good for a ride home?”
“Actually…,” Flora looked at him in question.
“She is,” Rex said, marveling that he felt possessive of this woman. Truth was, it started when he first saw her today, in her damn purple maid of honor dress.
And that was before she shared her news. Call it what you will, although he didn’t believe in that “love at first” sight bullshit, there was something magnetic between the two of them. He could feel it now and saw that she did too. Their connection was physical for sure, but he was going to reach for more. Because his baby needed a father, and that was Rex’s job—no one else’s. No motherfucker was going to cut in on his woman, he’d be damn sure of that.
The last of the guests filtered out, leaving Mandy’s family, Dave’s mom and younger brother, Steve, and another man and woman who Rex guessed were Flora’s parents.
Forcing a nervous smile, he thrust his hand toward the guy. “You must be Flora’s parents. I’m Rex, Dave’s best man.” And the guy who knocked up your daughter.
Her dad had short gray hair and stood a couple inches shorter than he did. He looked friendly—for now. Rex could see a resemblance to his daughter in his eye color and skin tone.
Her dad extended his hand. “Hello there, yes,” he said, smiling. “I’m Randall Hargrove, and this is my wife, Toni.” Flora’s mom’s hair was the same shade of blonde as her daughters, though Toni’s had a hint of gray. Her eyes were the same as Flora’s, that golden brown color. The resemblance was strong, and judging by her mother’s striking looks, her daughter would be equally as gorgeous in the next twenty years. “Did your parents come too?” Toni asked.
“No,” Rex said. “They booked a trip to Maui they couldn’t refund.”
Harriet hustled over, her oxygen tank trailing behind, pointing to the table with empty boxes. “We can use those to carry things out. But I live in a senior community and have little storage space.”
“No problem, sweetheart,” Rex winked at her. “I’ll get it over to Mandy’s.”
“How many chicks have you bagged with that sexy wink?” Harriet said, with her usual frankness. Dave’s mom had been a real hoot ever since Rex has known her. Flora’s parents looked extremely uncomfortable with Harriet’s comment.
“Now, Harriet, you know you are my best girl,” Rex said, trying to joke their way out of the awkward moment. Flora picked up an empty box and carried it to the bridal table. She began to lift the huge floral centerpiece, and Rex immediately sprinted to her side.
He took it out of her hands, reminding her, “No heavy lifting.”
Flora rolled her eyes at him, adding, “Or alcohol, or cold cuts, or hot tubs,” in a low, disgusted voice but not quiet enough. Harriet was standing directly behind them and had overheard and was now glancing down at the slight swell of Flora’s belly.
“Ooooh,” Harriet squealed. “How far along are you?”
Flora’s parents turned pale as her mother gasped. Simultaneously, the color drained from Flora’s face.
“What?” Her father thundered.
Dave pinched the bridge of his nose and muttered in unbelief to Harriet, “Mother.”
Steve grimaced, obviously embarrassed of his mother’s outbursts. It was then Harriet realized she’d let the cat out of the bag and began saying how sorry she was, over and over. Mandy went to her side to comfort her mother-in-law, and Flora followed. “It’s okay,” Flora said, taking Harriet’s hand. Not. “Please don’t cry.”
Steve left the fray and loaded all the centerpieces into boxes, then Ray and his son loaded the boxes into the trunk and backseat of Rex’s Mustang. As Rex had offered, he would take them to Mandy’s place tonight.
Mandy lived in a farmhouse in the northern suburbs. It had been her grandparents’, complete with apple orchard and an ornery goat. Dave asked him to look in on Siegfried, said goat, in the morning, so he and Mandy could spend their wedding night at a swanky hotel. Rex decided he could just drop off the boxes tomorrow, there was no rush. Siegfried could wait a night, so Rex could be with his girl.
Glancing at Flora’s parents, he could see they were upset and worried for their daughter. Randall’s face was flushed as he informed her of all the things that might happen because of this pregnancy. “You could lose your job,” he hissed. “Teachers get laid off all the time. First hired, first fired. How will you support a baby?”
“And your condo isn’t big enough for a child,” Toni said. Her face was the same shade of pale as Flora’s.
They were upsetting his woman, and Rex’s anger simmered on a low boil. He got that they were in shock, but everything they said just made it worse. When Flora covered her mouth practically in tears, Rex took charge. Excusing them both, he took hold of her waist and all but carried her out through the fire door, now glad it locked behind them but wishing he’d kept his suitcoat on, so he could give it to Flora.
He held her hair back while she hurled. “Easy, baby, easy.” He wanted to say the right thing, if there was a right thing to say. When she was finished, he led her around the building to the front door. “Their reaction seems a bit…extreme,” he said.
“You think?” Flora’s laugh was harsh. “It’s all because of my grandfather, he was mentally ill. My parents are afraid, I think, that I or my children will inherit the same disease—schizophrenia. They’ve never said it out loud, but I’ve heard whispers. Honestly, I worry a little too.”
They reached the front door. Some of Flora’s coloring returned. Everyone that was still in the hall was ready to go. Dave’s face was etched with concern. “I’m not sure what to say here, dude,” Dave said. “You know ma, she just says shit.” Harriet swatted her son giving her apologies.
Really, it wasn’t a big deal. Flora’s pregnancy was going to come out sooner or later.
Flora waved her off. “No worries, Harriet, everything’s fine.” Then turning to Dave and Mandy, she said, “Go, be newlyweds.” Her smile almost reached her eyes. Steve guided his mom outside as Rex wrapped his arm around Flora.
Preparing for round two with her parents.
Flora’s steps faltered when she saw her father, waiting, grim-faced. “You don’t need to go through with this,” he said. She covered her stomach with her hand in a protective gesture. Surely her dad didn’t mean that.
Her father’s gaze narrowed on Rex. “This is a family matter, we’ll see to her,” he said. Little did he know, Rex was now part of this family.
Rex looked at her in question, wondering what Flora wanted him to do when she shook her head slightly. Don’t leave.
Her mother joined them, her eyes looked red and swollen. Rex couldn’t believe their reaction. Though the news was unexpected, were they really that disappointed with having a grandchild? He then placed his hands on Flora’s shoulders and made it known. “She’s mine.” His tone was harsh and commanding. “The baby’s mine—ours. I’ll handle it, all of it—where she lives, her job, whatever she needs. Right now, she’s exhausted, upset, and nauseous. I’m taking her out of here, now.”
Her father’s eyes looked like chips of ice at the news. Fuck him, Rex thought and walked his woman out the door, grabbing his suitcoat from the back of a chair on the way.
“Where’s your stuff?” he muttered, thinking she must have a coat and purse somewhere in here.
“The room where I told you about everything, it’s there in a closet,” she said. They went to go and grab her things, using a different side door to get outside—avoiding her parents. Cold, icy air slid over her face. Rex wedged her hand inside his arm, giving her additional support as she walked in her spindly heels across the slick, wet parking lot to his car.
They pulled out of the lot as her parents walked outside. “Are they always like that?” he asked.
“Yeah.” What could she say? They’d always been overprotective.
Rex pulled into the lot of a fast-food taco restaurant. “Do you want anything?” he asked.
“Just my bed,” she said as exhaustion settled over her, suddenly, like a cloak.